Blog post by Niamh McCooey
Who could have predicted that one of the most celebrated pieces of clothing in the last five years came buzzing out of a 3D printer? When Dutch designer Iris van Herpen’s creation ‘Escapism’ won Time magazine’s dress of the year in 2011, she became the international front-woman for marrying haute-couture fashion with technological innovation. One of the highlights of Paris fashion week two years later, her 3D printed clothing has been going from strength to strength — but what does this mean for the modern maker?
Textile manufacturing is one of our oldest traditions and cherished by communities worldwide. For many designers, the tactility involved in working with fabric is at the industry’s core. For makers such as Sula Clothing for example, the hand-woven is central to their ethos of perpetuating time-honoured textile traditions. Similarly, with Kopé London, each piece of fabric used ‘passes through the lives and hands of many craftspeople and makers’ to ensure that each piece of cloth tells a story and keeps us connected.
Traditional textile processes each have their own vast and rich history but there’s no denying what they each have in common: a social life. Whether it’s knitting, weaving or embroidery, each traditional method of making is easily and so often linked to spending time with relatives and loved ones, passing great knowledge and skill down through generations. With the seemingly imminent rise of 3D printed clothing, perhaps this closeness is in jeopardy.
Collaborating with technologists and scientists, van Herpen’s creations often take the form of domineering sculptures more so than the beautiful lace-like silhouettes you might expect from haute couture design. But perhaps these 3D printed forms are coming at too high a cost. Are textiles losing that all important sense of humanity?
Regardless of the answer, the print-out garment can act as a reminder to make the most of our closeness at this time of year, materially and otherwise.www.irisvanherpen.com www.sulaclothing.com www.kopelondon.com